A story, true no less, featuring a giant squeegee and in which references to excrement are made a little too frequently for polite company.
Picture this: Mayotte, Wednesday, 5pm, thunder and lightning announce the imminent arrival of rain. Rain arrives posthaste and falls steadily until midnight, when it finally lets up enough to let the sick and stressed* Heroine fall asleep.
4am: A noise and a light awake the Heroine. Befuddled, she wonders why she smells sewage...
“Quela, wake up!” our Hero exclaims. “The house is flooded.”
General mumbling about the lamp turning itself on and light cursing ensue.
All goes black.
The Hero bravely, though the Heroine was too sleep-fuddled to realize it at the time, says, "Just in case, I love you."
The Heroine knows her man loves her and doesn't quite understand the "Just in case...," but she hopes the return to darkness means that the Hero was exaggerating, and she can now go back to sleep. But that does not solve the mystery of the horrid smell assaulting her poor nostrils, nor the fact that the Hero’s feet make splashing noises when they hit the tiles. Rain has resumed a lulling pitter-patter on the roof.
More mumbling and light cursing. The Heroine groans and wiggles out from under the mosquito netting. She toes about on the floor, feeling for her thongs (for she does not walk about barefoot at night with centipedes on the prowl). Instead of foam rubber or cold tiles, she encounters 10 centimeters of water. On her bedroom floor.
While the Hero frantically unplugs all the appliances and moves the cables out of the water, the Heroine locates her stash of emergency candles and matches. By the feeble candlelight, they see they are standing in a morass of rainwater and sewage. After saving what can be saved from the floor, the Hero starts bailing water out of the bedroom, where leakage from the foundations is assuring that the level stays high, while the Heroine makes a dam of sorts so that water doesn’t reach the amazingly dry half of the kitchen. She then takes up the giant squeegee.
Before she makes any progress, the Hero bids her stop and snaps a few photos for the insurance. Unfortunately, 4am, sleepiness, and no electricity are not conducive to good photography. The better photos are taken later, when it is light and most of the mess has been cleaned up.
Consider this your Glimpse of the week. It doesn't get truer to life here than this :P :
And a before and after of the covered terrace:
The neighbors are in the same boat, some even worse. Two of those neighbors, Koko (meaning “grandmother”) and Fabie, come over to see what things look like in the Heroic household. Even though the water is shin-high in their house, they take up sawn-off water bottles and help the Hero bail. Of a sudden, jolly old Koko bursts into laughter and points at the bed. She speaks maybe ten words of French, so she continues to laugh, point, and meow. The Hero shines his headlamp at the bed and sees two cats, Max and Tiboy, taking shelter on the bed under the mosquito netting. Though the intelligence of certain cats in the Heroic household has been questioned upon numerous occasions, it cannot help but appear that they are showing signs of the utmost wisdom now.
As the Heroine squeegees water out the front door for the next four hours, thereby getting a blister--which the Hero says could have been avoided if only she favored the broom more often over the vacuum--she sings a modified version of an old Live song that goes a little something like this: Gotta live, gotta live, gotta live in this Sh*thouse. Gotta live, gotta live... Yes, very catchy tune.
The majority of the water removed from the hall, living room, office, and the sewage-y side of the kitchen, she goes to help the Hero bail water. And finds her thongs. Floating against the wall at the head of the bed on a good two centimeters of water.
It is 8am, the stores have opened. The Heroine showers because she just can’t stand the thought of crap clinging to her for another minute. The Heroic couple gets in their car and goes to stock up on bottled water and canned foods, for the end of the world may be nigh. Many areas of town look like it has just been raining a few minutes. The beauty of good drainage and slightly higher ground. Other areas are clogged with mud and rubbish. The beauty of living on an island where trashcans are shunned and the littebug is king.
The shopping done, the couple returns home to continue cleaning. The morning wears on. The Hero braves turning on the television to see the weather report. We will have more, more, more rain over the next 48 hours. The kashkasi (rainy season) has arrived. No sh*t, Sherlock.
The neighbors find time to cook and send Fabie and Maeva over with chicken wings and fried breadfruit, so the Heroic couple take a lunch break. The Hero naps while the sick Heroine sits, zombie-like, in front of a movie. They work up their courage and go back to cleaning, sorting, and throwing out. Flies are everywhere and that crude expression about flies on excrement takes the place of the Sh*ithouse rendition. The day wears on.
The Heroine reheats leftovers for supper and makes a peach/apricot cobbler. Everyone needs a little sweetness in their lives, especially those who have been ankle-deep in crap all day.
1.5 liters of bleach and several moppings later, the Heroic couple decides to turn in for the night, after a thorough scrub-down in the shower, of course. They strip the bed and sleep on towels and pareos because the cats and water have dirtied all the bedding. The Heroine smuggles a bottle of White Chocolate Massage Lotion into the bed and gives the Hero a massage because he was such a great help, never complained, and willingly mopped the entire house thrice. The Heroine sleeps fitfully and rises several times to make sure water is not swamping her home again.
She awakes sick, sick, sick, and decides that she really must see the doctor. He declares antibiotics are in order without telling her, as is his way, what is wrong with her. She doesn’t really care. No matter the drugs, he can’t prescribe her a clean house to pick up at the pharmacy. She and the Hero have to see to that on their own, sick or not.
*stressed because, while Aïcha’s b-i-l did come last Sunday to fix the roof, he only somewhat fixed it--slowing the leaks in some places and making new ones in others by using regular nails and by placing the tin willy-nilly.